U.S. import prices increased in July after two straight monthly declines, driven by rising costs for petroleum products and food, but underlying imported inflation remained muted.
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The Labor Department said on Tuesday that import prices edged up 0.1 percent last month after an unrevised 0.2 percent drop in June. Last month's increase was in line with economists' expectations and left the 12-month increase at 1.5 percent.
The year-on-year increase in import prices has slowed sharply since hitting 4.7 percent in February, which was the biggest advance in five years.
Imported inflation has been dampened by a strong dollar. With the greenback falling 6.6 percent against the currencies of the United States' main trading partners this year, price pressures are expected to start creeping up.
Prices for imported petroleum increased 0.7 percent in July after decreasing 2.9 percent in June.
Import prices excluding petroleum were unchanged after rising 0.1 percent in the prior month. Import prices excluding petroleum increased 0.9 percent in the 12 months through July.
Prices for imported capital goods nudged up 0.1 percent. Imported motor vehicle prices fell 0.2 percent for a second straight month. The cost of imported food increased 0.6 percent.
The report also showed export prices rebounded 0.4 percent in July, the biggest gain since December 2016, after falling 0.2 percent in June. Export prices increased 0.8 percent on a year-on-year basis after rising 0.6 percent in the 12 months through June. (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)